For the second day in a row, Marvel made headlines with a drastic change-up to one of their most popular characters.
As we reported this morning, Sam “Falcon” Wilson is the new Captain America. But did you know that Wilson is the second black man to take up the star-spangled mantle?
In many ways, comic books have been one of the more progressive mediums, and to prove that point, here are other examples of classic heroes that have gone through changes similar to Cap.
1. Isaiah Bradley
Though his promotion is the one currently dominating the headlines, Sam Wilson is the second black character to pick up the shield. One of Marvel’s darkest storylines ever is an alternate history that takes inspiration from the Tuskegee syphilis experiement. “Truth: Red, White & Black” told the story of the government’s attempts to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that created Captain America. Bradley was the only survivor of the experiments, which left hundreds of black soldier dead.
2. Miles Morales
The Ultimate version of Peter Parker is one of the few comic book characters to have actually stayed dead. (Though recent events have put that into doubt.) The person charged with taking over for the younger, more modern version of the original Spider-Man was Miles Morales, a Black Hispanic 13 year-old. The announcement of Parker’s replacement caused some backlash from those claiming that the move was publicity stunt, but Miles’ enduring popularity seems to have won that argument.
3. Calvin Ellis
On a different version of Earth, within DC Comics continuity, there’s a Superman that bears a striking resemblance to Barack Obama. Also, he’s the president. Writer Grant Morrison, who created Ellis, admitted that originally, the character was simply supposed to be Obama, but later comics confirmed that he was a separate person, albeit heavily inspired by the president.
John Henry Irons is a hero that rose to fame during the “Death and Return of Superman” storyline, as one of the four individuals vying to fill the void left by the fallen hero. Steel’s origin strongly resembles that of Iron Man. Irons had been a weapons engineer that turned away from his profession when his inventions ended up in the wrong hands. The death of Superman inspired Irons to build a power suit in the hero’s image and take up the mantle.
5. James Rhodes
Even before Rhodey got his own suit as War Machine, Tony Stark’s best bud donned the red and gold a few times, usually when the original Iron Man was battling other, more personal demons.
6. Human Torch
When Johnny Storm returns to the big screen next year in the “Fantastic Four” reboot, he’ll be played by none other than Michael B. Jordan, an actor whose star has justifiably risen very quickly over the past couple years.